GDC 119: On Catechisms

GDC’s Part Two, Chapter II (numbered sections 119-136), treats the issues of catechisms. The Catechism of the Catholic Church predates this document by several years, but you may find the next several posts illustrative as we will explore some of the philosophy behind the organization of this catechism. It also describes what other catechisms may be produced, and why.

For today, let’s read the introductory section to this chapter and kick off our discussion (if any) from there.

“This is our faith this is the faith of the Church” heads this chapter, as well as two quotes:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).

“So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the tradition which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thess 2:15).

And the substance of the section follows …

119. This chapter reflects on the content of catechesis as presented by the Church in the syntheses of faith which are officially drawn up and presented in her catechisms. The Church has always used formulations of faith which, in short forms, contain the essentials of what she believes and lives: New Testament texts, creeds or professions of faith, liturgical formulas, Eucharistic prayers. At a later period, it was considered useful to provide more ample explicitations of the faith in organic synthesis, through the catechisms compiled in numerous local Churches in recent centuries. In two historical moments, at the Council of Trent and in our own times, it was considered opportune to furnish a comprehensive presentation of the faith in a catechism of a universal nature, which would serve as a reference point for catechesis throughout the Church. It was with this intention that Pope John Paul II promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church on 11 October 1992.

The present chapter seeks to situate these official instruments of the Church, which is what catechisms are, in relation with catechetical activity and praxis.

In the first place, it will reflect on the Catechism of the Catholic Church and seek to clarify its role in the overall catechesis of the Church. It will, then, analyse the need for local catechisms to adapt the content of the faith to different circumstances and cultures. Some directions will be given to assist the preparation of such catechisms. The Church, contemplating the richness of the content of faith, which the Bishops propose to the people of God and which they express like a “symphony” (Fidei Depositum 2d) celebrates, lives and proclaims what she believes: “This is our faith, this is the faith of the Church”.

Consider the recent release of YouCat. This would be an example of a catechism designed to adapt the content of the Catholic faith for a particular group (young people) in the modern context. Pope John Paul’s reference to a “symphony” of faith thus connects with the acclamation from the Rite of Baptism–an appropriate heading with an appropriate artistic metaphor supporting it.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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